Today I need talk about one of my favorite Greek meat recipes: Kotopoulo Kokkinisto. It is one of my all time favorite chicken dishes. Kokkinisto, refers to the method of cooking in tomato sauce. Kokkino means red and kokkinisto mean reddened. A large number of dishes in Greece are kokkinista: almost all summer vegetables are cooked in a combination of tomato, olive oil, herbs and spices. Examples include okra, green beans and eggplant. But meats are often cooked in tomato sauce as well. Kotopoulo kokkinisto is a common favorite, and I remember both my grandmothers occasionally making this dish, usually on Sundays or other special occasions, by using their own chickens from the yard.
But apart from the flavor, this dish is healthy. Studies have shown that when tomato is cooked with olive oil, the absorption of lycopene in increased. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that may protect from cancer and heart disease. Also it is important to know that even cooked tomatoes retain some of the vitamin C, and the presence of vitamin C from the tomatoes increases your absorption of iron from the meat. The amount of olive oil used in this recipe is actually small, corresponding to less than a tablespoon per person, so you are getting a dish moderate in fat and rich in protein and antioxidants. I tend to add more tomatoes than usual so I can incorporate another serving of vegetables to the dish. This can be accompanied with potatoes or other starch such as pasta or rice. I used brown rice (cannot really tell in the photo), but sometimes we just make the chicken and accompany it with some salad and a slice of bread.
Greek Chicken Cooked in Tomato-Kotopoulo Kokkinisto
- 1 ½ pound chicken in pieces- with or without skin-You can use a 3 lb. whole chicken and just double the amount of the rest of the ingredients.
- 2 onions diced
- 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 minced garlic cloves
- 16-20 ounces diced tomatoes- fresh or canned
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3-4 allspice berries
- 1 bay leaf
- Pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a large deep pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the chicken pieces on both sides for about 8-10 minutes total.
- Set the chicken aside and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (tomato, cinnamon stick, all spice, bay leaf, salt and pepper) and about 1/3 cup of water and mix well. Add the chicken and blend.
- Cover the pan and let it simmer for about 45 minutes, until chicken is cooked.
- In the meantime, prepare your side dish (rice or pasta) or your salad.
- Serve warm.
Could you use like sensitive marinara sauce instead and cook the chicken in that?
excellent. I added more water and instant brown rice 10 min from the end. worked great
I love this dish. Easier less complicated recipe produces the most amazing flavors.
Thank you Anita! Happy to hear that!
I have been slowly introducing my husband to Mediterranean diet/cooking. He loved this dish. Will make it again. It.s a winner. Thanks for sharing.
I made this tonight – it was absolutely beautiful! I’ve never been a particularly enthusiastic cook, but I can’t wait to make this again. Thank you so much for the recipe!
Both my Yaya and Mother made a variation of this dish that they Bealafi (phonetically). Eassentially they browned the chicken parts, then sauteed onions and garlic, added tomato sauce, put chicken back into the pot with cup of rice and let simmer.
It was one of my favorite childhood dishes. I will be experimenting to make my own. Let know if you have heard of such a dish. Thank you.
Thanks for sharing George! Perhaps it was the pilafi? Cooking rice in broth or with sauce or with meat.
My grandmother made something similar, but the rice was cooked in the tomato sauce after cooking the chicken. Been trying to find that exact recipe but can’t seem too. It was my altimeter favorite meal growing up.
Hi Debra, Yes, you can use the technique in this recipe https://www.olivetomato.com/one-pot-greek-chicken-with-kritharaki-orzo-and-tomato/ in the place of orzo you can add the rice, and cook the rice in the tomato sauce.
My dad added cloves and the sauce was of a thinner consistency.
My family loved this. Definitely will be a regular for us. I served it with dandelion greens and rice. Thank you for this recipe!!
Thank you Becky! Great accompaniments too!
Is this ever made with red sweet peppers? Similar chicken dishes are made in many Mediterreanean regions, with different spicing and other ingredients. But I also love the oven dish with potatoes, oregano and (as I was taught) onions or another member of the alium family. Quality chicken (free range, organic, real farmyard) chicken would make a great difference.
Not traditionally, no.
Do you have instructions for making this in an instant pot?
Does anyone have the Greek recipe called honey puffs??
that is loukoumades….look it up online and you will find many recipes for it.
my mom make it like this but she boil the orzo mix it after the kokinisto is ready put it in a pan with little feta cheese on top and put it in the oven for 20 minutes and you have giuvetsi
Thanks for sharing Glykeria!
A lovely, simple dish. I’ve been using your recipes for vegetables cooked with olive oil & tomato so I’m sure we’ll enjoy this as well. Do Greek cooks ever turn it into a one-pot meal by adding vegetables? I’ll bet okra would work well. Or potatoes, as the starch.
If you leave the skin on the chicken, do you drain the fat after browning or use it to sauté the onion? Draining and adding fresh olive oil would be healthier, but schmaltz does add a lot of flavor!
Most “cinnamon” sold in the US is actually cassia, which is stronger than true Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is more subtle and complex. Many cuisines favor one or the other, and it’s helpful to know which will give the more authentic flavor. Which is used in Greece?
Yes, definitely actually chicken cooked with okra is a very common combination.
My mom used to make something very similar, but she called it “kapama.” She did not use allspice but added lemon juice and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese at the end. One of my all-time favorites!
Love the lemon juice idea! Yes, some people use the words kapama and kokkinisto interchangeably, others say kapama may have more s[ices, but basically food cooked in tomato sauce.
Do you have instructions for making this in an instant pot?
I made this in an insta-pot and cooked for 6 min instead of simmering for 45. Worked out well.